Mayor Signs DC Gay Marriage Bill

Opponents still try to get bill overturned

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    As promised, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill legalizing gay marriage, but it won't go into effect just yet.

    Fenty signed the bill Friday at All Souls Church in northwest Washington.

    The city council had passed the bill legalizing gay marriage in the city with an 11-2 vote Tuesday. Congress has final say over D.C.'s laws, however, so the mayor's signature doesn't mean the bill immediately becomes law.

    The bill must pass a 30-working-day period of congressional review. Supporters expect Congress won't touch the law and that gay couples may be able to wed in the District as early as March, joining Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire, which will allow same-sex marriage beginning Jan. 1.

    Opponents, however, plan to fight the bill. Members of a group called Stand4Marriage, led by local pastor Bishop Harry Jackson, have met with members of Congress to urge them to oppose the bill.

    Attorney Cleta Mitchell said that the group will ask a District elections board to put a referendum on the ballot asking voters to overturn it, believing there is less support among D.C. voters than there is on the council. She said in a statement before Tuesday's vote that the law is a "decision for the people, not a dozen people at city hall."

    The group Mitchell represents made a similar request this summer, when the city passed the law recognizing gay marriages legally performed in other states. The board declined to put the issue on the ballot, saying that would violate a city human rights law.

    The group also has a lawsuit pending from earlier this year, when it tried to get an initiative on the ballot asking voters to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The elections board again cited the human rights law in saying no. A hearing in that case is scheduled for February.